The One

My body cracks in two, flesh stuck in between the crevices of a boot, evidence of my life scattered across the pavement with every step you take. After the crime, the magpie swoops down, plucks my carcass up, and feeds it to her children, and I become another insect with a life lost soon after it had begun. But listen well, and you will hear the crackling of my children underground, a thousand vibrating hearts, plunging out of thin shells, and taking long and well-deserved gasps. They stretch constricted limbs and crawl out into the world with anticipation, but as the short days go by, most will have faced the same as I, for an insect’s life is too short and trivial to be worth remembering.

Now, my spirit tells a tale of our ancestors, an army of fierce warriors, a collective of indisputable glory, an entity of purity and strength. The animals would stare at us in awe, for we were billions of individuals as one, with beady eyes scintillating under the rays of the sun and pride so immense that it would reflect across all surfaces of the earth.

We were a gold body known as The One. Our towering frame would cast shadows over the furry beasts, that would whimper at the mere sight of our being. Our arms were caterpillars, gracefully curling and releasing, our thighs, bouncing crickets that moved like wild grass in the summer wind. Beetles with exoskeletons of ruthless armor swarmed our jaded heart and protected it from anyone who tried to wound us. It was the birds, however, that loathed us with all their being – a savage breed of sharp feathers and steel talons that vowed to separate us by any means necessary. Eager beaks would ricochet off our skin, as they tried to feast on our flesh, but our legs were locked in an embrace that could not be broken with any force on the Earth.

They gazed at us with glazed eyes tipping over with desire. They would salivate restlessly every sunrise and sunset, but they were not big enough to defeat us. All creatures on the earth were separated by the air in between them, their heartbeats a cacophony of fluctuating tunes, too varied to form any melody to please. Our harmonies, however, would make Nature smile from the tops of mountains to the depths of the sea, and she would open up spaces in her body in which we could roam as we pleased; the animals grew jealous of our treatment and called upon the birds to tell their sorrows. Then, the animals and birds secretly met at a raging volcano and whispered evil revenge into each other’s eardrums.

“Welcome!” Magpie roared into the crowd. “We have come here to discuss the beginnings of a plan to destroy our common enemy. The One has sturdy arms, and walks on two feet, while some of us crawl and others are handicapped by wings. We need a creature with straight shoulders, and brute fingers, with its head reaching the sky, so that it can look The One in the eye, and stab its heart without mercy. Then, comrades, all of us shall be equal, again! So, plead for a creature as such, and earn your equality!”

The animals cried and cried for days and days, while we danced blissfully in the fields, as naive as Nature herself. She had joined the animals in the collective plea, because she too, felt threatened by us. Her beauty was being overshadowed by ours, her greatness quenched by the many compliments we received by traitors among the animals. In the quest to be great, Nature loathed us more than the birds and unknowingly handed her strength to a creature that emerged from a rumbling volcano that night.

First, a palm, made of a creature so perfect that everyone moaned in awe. It placed its hand on the rock and pulled itself out, curved shoulders, pearl eyes, and a mind too complex for the animals to understand. 

Nature stood in front of The Human, “Great being, how glad we are that you stand on my body today. We wish that you destroy my once most favored creature, The One. It dances in the fields and tries to be greater than all of us. If you can split it apart into nothing but individuals, then you can join our society as an equal and loved member.”

The Human looked her right in the eye and spoke so only she could understand,

“I promise to do as you say,

if you let me stand as I am today,

as one full-body made with many,

never to be destroyed by anyone’s envy.”

Nature bit her lip nervously. She knew that the animals would not like what The Human said, but her jealousy for us drove her to lie,

“I allow you to stay the way that you are,

if you entertain us with a battle to watch from afar.”

While everyone had come together to plan our death, we were leaking butterfly tears of loneliness. One can be feared and hated for so long, until the feeling of dread claws at the throat, and stings the heart. We longed for a companion to love and cherish, but no creature, not even Nature, was seen. We thought that they had left forever, and we would have to be content with talking to ourselves for the rest of eternity; we should have been content with that, for little did we know of what was to come.

We awoke at the sound of chanting. Coming closer was all the animals of the Earth, but there was another creature, as large as us, towering over them. The beetles around our heart clenched in fear, our cricket legs got ready to jump, but we were frozen in time, too shocked to move. Nature sat on her throne and the animals crowded around, as The Human, we learned later, continued walking. It spoke something that we could not understand, but Nature smirked and crossed her arms as if she was waiting for something.

The Human ran, and we decided to run towards it in hopes of winning the fight. We collided at the meeting of the sky and earth, and our bodies flew in opposite directions, an explosion of life on the horizon. We scattered across the land, caterpillars falling onto leaves, ants burrowing in the dirt, mosquitoes flicked away by the wind. We lost our limbs in the chaos and became a mound of bodies clutching desperately onto a dying heart. Slowly, we released our hold on each other and ambled off with a sadness covering our small frames.

The Human also fell apart, different people landing on Pangea, dazed and confused. Nature had promised them unity, but they were as scattered as us, searching for the companionship lost not long ago; once separated, however, they no longer could be the same again. Wars were waged and blood was spilled over misunderstandings and power. Slowly the land drifted apart into continents, and The Human became human, each being too different to sing in unison anymore.

The animals flourished, forming packs and herds until the reckless mind of the humans took control. Nature could no longer control them, for they were everywhere, ripping her hair, driving blades through her arms, and weakening her heart. They were angry for being deceived and took what they pleased, and we the insects mocked the animals for their stupidity, “We were a peaceful creature that did not harm anyone, and it is because of you that we bow down to a human’s thumb. I hope that you have achieved the equality that you had been searching for.”

Magpie spoke for the animals, and said, “You, have no right to speak, for you are so little. Bow down and remain silent.”

We did. The animals whimpered beside Nature, while we hid within her crevices, away from both them and humans. Now, my children and other insects are scattered across the world, humming and buzzing for each other’s company. We long for a day that we are again The One, the strong and sturdy force, that once dominated the natural order. If you, human, look down upon the earth and see our live flesh desperately seeking cover from your foreboding boot, do not pity us, for every one you kill, you arouse and an angry army of sorrow-filled hearts. We watch every shell you crack, every fly you trap, every cocoon you split apart to study. We watch every tree sliced down, every blade of grass cut by machines, every bug suffocated by intoxicating fertilizers. We watch your children step on dying worms in the rain, as if it is a silly game, but listen, and listen well: you may have won the small battles, but we promise, you are about to lose the final war. 

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